Having worked as David Chase’s right-hand man on the last couple of seasons of The Sopranos, it makes sense that Matthew Weiner would end Mad Men with an echo of that series' famous cut to black. Cutting to the famous “I’d Like To Buy The World A Coke” ad, strongly suggesting (but not stating outright) that Don Draper returns to New York with a fresh idea, a new outlook on himself, and a new commitment to his children made for a slightly elliptical, mostly satisfying end to the show.
For a minute there it seemed like Don was going to reject advertising once and for all and go back to his roots tinkering with cars, and absent the fact that he has children, I would have been happy with... Read More
Out of all the predictions and guesses about how Matthew Weiner would end Mad Men, I don’t think anyone imagined that a happy ending for Pete Campbell would be a part of it. I certainly didn’t. But with the amusing return of Duck Phillips, now a corporate headhunter and still an unrepentant drunk, Pete is swept off his feet into a new job as head of marketing for Learjet, where he’ll have access to his own plane to go anywhere he wants anytime he wants, in addition to a generous signing bonus and his full negotiated settlement with McCann. Best of all, he takes the opportunity to put his family back together and bring them with him to Learjet’s hometown, Wichita, Kansas, showing that he may actually have learned something... Read More
After learning last week that Sterling Cooper & Partners was to be dissolved and the key employees absorbed into the massive, fully corporatized culture at McCann Erickson, this week was about the actual transition into that new world, and the different ways Our Heroes adjusted—some smoothly, some less so, some not at all.
Don is greeted the most warmly, and McCann honcho Jim Hobart’s remark that he’s been chasing Don for ten years, and the shabby way the rest of the SC&P team is being greeted, suggests that the whole acquisition was just an elaborate way of acquiring Don. If that’s the case, they’re in for a rude awakening, as it looks like Don may have attended his last market research meeting.
A distinct feeling of déjà vu pervaded a big chunk of this week’s episode, as the five principals of Sterling Cooper & Partners, once again faced with an existential threat to the firm, scrambled to fight for its survival.
What at first looks like a clerical lapse—SC&P has not paid its rent, and receives notice of its eviction from their office space in the Time & Life building—turns out to be an intentional move by the firm’s new corporate parent to dissolve and absorb it into McCann Erickson.
Mad Men has rarely been better than in the moments when the characters are trying to keep themselves afloat professionally; there is an Ocean’s Eleven, putting the team together, sneaky scam kind of vibe to the episodes where the old... Read More
Don Draper, as well as his fellow partners, continue last week’s theme so aptly summed up with the Peggy Lee song “Is That All There Is?” in this week’s episode. Not many Mad Men episodes have as explicit a framing device as Roger’s assignment to Don to give their corporate masters at McCann a “Gettysburg Address” about the future of the firm, but as the show winds down it certainly seems appropriate to have Don asking the big questions, of himself and the people around him.
It’s striking how steadfastly Don has clung to his look even as everyone around him gives in to the spirit of the times; not only does he still keep his hair short and Brylcreemed, he just refuses to give up on that fedora;... Read More
Something didn’t sit right with me for the duration of this episode; I felt disoriented throughout all of it, as the storyline with Don and Diana the waitress from last week surprisingly continued, with Don spending some shoe leather on how to find her at her new job and then striking up a courtship.
They didn’t seem to have anything in common at first other than a tendency to skip right to dessert (so to speak) without a lot of chit-chat, so I was puzzled by this relationship that they both seemed to be treating as important right away. But then it hit me, when Diana spoke of her lost daughter and abandoned home in Wisconsin, that Diana is like a female Don: she cut and run when things... Read More
It is always great to rejoin the characters at Sterling Cooper at the beginning of a new season of Mad Men; they’re all such sharply drawn, specific characters that more than most shows, they feel like real people, and it’s exciting to see what they’ve been up to since we left them. Last season (or half-season) ended on the moon landing and Sterling Cooper & Partners selling out to McCann Erickson, making the partners rich and saving Don’s job, and as the story picks up nine months later, in April 1970, Don and Roger are catting around, Don is visited by a vision of Rachel Katz (from season 1), who he soon learns has just died of leukemia, Peggy and Joan are dealing with a rather startling level of chauvinism... Read More
The first nine episodes of Better Call Saul have been far better than they had any right to be. Where fans once feared the show might tarnish the legacy of the near-perfect run of Breaking Bad, it’s turned out to be every bit as compelling, thanks to stellar writing, inventive direction of a piece with the Breaking Bad house style, and a lead performance by Bob Odenkirk that his past work has never even hinted at. Last week’s episode was probably the best of the series so far – something I think we’ve said three separate times so far – and the stage is set for a great season finale. (10pm Monday, AMC)
The war between North and South can be seen through... Read More
So many questions: What year will it be? Will Don figure out how to love himself enough to love someone else? Will Pete come back from California? Will Peggy find a life outside the office? Will Betty’s marriage to Henry last? Will Henry become Mayor of New York? Will Sally get kicked out of boarding school? Will Bobby get recast again?
If you are as excited about the final season premiere of Mad Men as we are, you’ve been gobbling up the many, many previews and remembrances and thinkpieces that have been flooding the Internet for the last couple of weeks.
There are only two more episodes in a first season of Better Call Saul that has shattered all the modest expectations of a prequel series swimming in the wake of an all-time great. Last week’s episode brought the season into focus, and our expectations for this week’s episode and next week’s season finale are now properly recalibrated. (10pm Monday, AMC)
It’s been a lot of laughs, a lot of love, and a lot (a lot) of wine, but the time has come for Courteney Cox and the rest of the Cul-de-Sac Crew to say goodbye in the series finale of Cougar Town, a show that diverged even farther from its original premise than VH1. (10:30pm Tuesday, TBS)